home inspection

Wait - Your Inspector Didn't Say Anything About Anchor Bolts?

First, a little history lesson. We tend to think that modern standards are inherently superior to the ‘good old days’. That may be so, but that does not mean that an older foundation is unsafe or needs a full retrofit. Many of our old foundations (in this region) are doing just fine. Many of those do not have a single anchor bolt, either.

Washington State began requiring anchor bolts on a statewide basis in about 1973 though many of our 1950s and 1960s Pullman and Clarkston homes have them. Prior to that, the state mandated them in the Puget Sound region due to earthquake potential.

Anchor bolting is installed to handle seismic and wind forces that have the potential to knock a home off the foundation. The Northridge quake is a case in point. The manner in which we installed them changed after that quake and the design of the washers was modified to limit damage.

Anchor bolts are not always visible - finished basement will prevent access - but it pays to have your inspector making the effort to identity if they are present or not. I do so in my reports on a separate line. If they are missing, the client gets a nice explanatory paragraph.

It’s a fairly common defect to find that the anchor bolts are present but missing washers and nuts. When this happens, it becomes a repair issue. If they are not spaced correctly, it becomes a judgement call - is it worth the cost to retrofit versus the risk. On this side of the state, our earthquake risk is minimal compared to Seattle. Most people don’t retrofit, but they always appreciate the information.

Receptacles over Baseboard Heaters - A Fire Waiting to Happen

I took a trip down to Boise a couple of weekends ago. Just because I was off the job doesn’t mean the eyeballs quit working. We stayed at a converted residence but it was pretty clear that not all the work done to upgrade the traveler’s spaces meets the current safety standards.

In this case, it was a baseboard heater with a receptacle located immediately above it. This is a pretty common finding in older homes in Pullman and Clarkston, but it also represents a fire and shock hazard.

360° Pictures are Here!

Want to show your parents, your kids, your friends your new home but finding the photo options limited? 

Safe@Home has a solution for you! We've invested in new software and cameras that will allow us to put 360° pictures into your report. We're excited about this new feature and are offering it without any additional charge! All you have to do is ask!

Angie's List Super Service Award Winner

If you look to the right-hand side of the front page, you will notice that I have a new award. In my first year with Angie's List, Safe@Home Inspections won their prized Super Service Award for 2017.

These are the sorts of things that happen by accident. It requires an enormous investment in giving my clients an outstanding inspection along with great service before and after the inspection.

Personally, I'm incredibly pleased. I'm also looking for ways to do even better this year. 

My thanks to all the clients and their agents that placed their trust in me!

Smart Moves by Sellers, Pt. 1

Smart Moves by Sellers

This will likely become on ongoing series...

The sellers at a recent inspection did two things to help set the tone of the inspection. First, they left the buyer and me a note offering us beverages- though not the wine. But water, soft drinks and juices (cooled in the outside refrigerator) were available. On a hot summer day, it was a welcome gesture.

The second was to leave another note, this one at a piece of missing trim above the bedroom door. On the note, is said simply "We will fix this." Want to talk about building trust as a seller. These folks did great.

So, two Smart Moves by Sellers to first welcome and then reassure the prospective buyers. It cost them a minute and two pieces of paper.


Burned Wires in the Panel

Burned Wiring in Electrical PanelThe burned wires in this electrical panel aren't the result of a defect in the panel, the breakers or even  the wiring.  I damaged the wiring by the simple act of removing a screw (and, no, I'm not responsible - that cover should be safe to remove. The listing agent and I had this discussion and the electrician backed me up.) Sparks flew everywhere as the screw came out and the panel sizzled in front of me. Fortunately, I wasn't hanging onto the panel cover or it would likely have knocked me across the room. Hidden defects exist in nearly every home. While the home inspector tries to find as many of them as possible, the term 'hidden defect' persists for a reason. None of us have x-ray vision so items stashed in the walls stays stashed. Even my infrared camera isn't going to help with many of these issues.

The defect in this case was the original installation of the wiring. By code, those wires should never be placed in a position where this could possibly happen. When I see wiring too close to attachment points, it gets written up for correction.

And, when I'm taking the panel cover off, my clients aren't allowed to help. The flash range on a 200 AMP panel is about three feet (so I've been told - I have no desire to test that particular factoid!) I appreciate the offer but even the slight risk that something like this can happen - this is the first time in  eight years for me - isn't worth it.

I joke when I see burned wires in the panel that someone had a bad day. You pay us to do this as safely as possible and we are, most of us, very careful but the rare nasty surprise can still be waiting. If it has to happen - let it happen to the inspector.